Column: Politically speaking with Yvette Cooper MP: ‘Unfair cuts to bus services in our local towns’

Yvette Cooper MP.
Yvette Cooper MP.

Buses are the lifeline of our towns yet too many routes have been cut, writes Yvette Cooper MP.

We’ve lost services such as the 134 bus from Pontefract to Castleford which has had a huge impact on many residents in the Glasshoughton area, it’s not fair and I’ve already written to the combined authority saying it should be brought back.

Spending on buses in West Yorkshire has been cut by more than 35% since 2010. Total bus journeys have been cut by more than 20%. It’s just not good enough, and its another Conservative austerity project hitting working class communities.

That’s why last week Labour pledged to reverse the funding cuts to bus services since 2010 by pledging an extra £1,3 billion investment as well as giving the decision making power back to local councils.

Time and time again towns like ours are losing our buses while the big transport investment goes into city rail links instead. Spending billions on a high speed rail link from Leeds to London when people can’t get between Pontefract and Normanton isn’t fair. I’ve called on the Government to tell us how much money they are putting into transport between cities and how much they are putting into transport for towns because it’s time we got a fair deal.

Round here families were at risk of losing school buses because of cuts too and I’ve been arguing strongly against the cancellation of buses from Normanton and Castleford to St Wilfred’s and I’m glad that West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed now to keep the buses. Bus companies need to work for passengers and communities again not how to make the biggest profit.

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media have become part of our lives. Any of us who have teenagers know they can spend their whole time online. Although let’s be honest, many of us parents can be just as bad.

But whilst social media can be so great for connecting friends, families and communities, too often it is being hijacked for threats, abuse, bullying, grooming or extremism.

We’ve also seen young people targeted online with videos on self harm or suicide. Or new parents targeted with lies and fear campaigns designed to undermine crucial vaccination programmes for dangerous diseases like measles.

Even illegal terrorist propaganda is staying up online too long before the companies finally get round to taking it down.

Last week in a session of the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee I challenged Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to get their act together, to stop promoting extremism, protect young people and to take down illegal material fast. These are among the richest companies on the planet — they can afford to do better than this.

And the rest of us need to calm down and remember it is possible to strongly disagree with each other without making threats or sending vile abuse.

Above where we sit in parliament is a coat of arms for Jo Cox. Every day we are reminded of her wise words, which are more important now than ever: “we are far more united, and have far more in common with each other, than things that divide us.”